As working styles have evolved, so have our office spaces. Coworking was popularized by gig economy freelancers and entrepreneurs seeking flexible, inspiring work environments. Evidence that coworking spaces enhance a professional’s productivity prompted large-scale corporations and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to allow staff to work from a coworking space and, in some cases, require them to. A 2019 Gensler study found that 14 percent of corporate workers used coworking spaces regularly, which equated to around one in seven people less than one day per week. The same year, Coworker found that the largest utilizers were SMEs, representing 38 percent of the market.
Benefits of coworking include improved work-life balance, autonomy over work schedules, networking opportunities, and a sense of community.
But as more teams and startups adopt a hybrid working model, who is using coworking spaces in 2023 and beyond?
Let’s meet some diverse professionals who have chosen SF coworking space CANOPY as their base.
The College Dropouts
Gavin Uberti, CEO, & Chris Zhu, CTO, co-founders of Etched
In March 2023, Chris and Gavin were still taking math and computer science classes at Harvard. A month later, they closed $5.36 million in a seed round led by Primary Venture Partners, dropped out of school, and moved to the Bay Area to make a more cost-effective chip for generative AI.
Because they’re building an in-person company, Chris and Gavin wanted everyone to be in the office daily: they knew that seeing people in person and the small day-to-day interactions are crucial to establishing a strong company culture. To that end, they leased a Private Office at CANOPY Menlo Park, knowing they could scale up to two offices or take a larger space as the company grows.
“It’s great to have that flexibility. We love the peaceful environment and soundproofing, the beautiful views. We looked into many options, including empty office spaces, and determined that setting up an office or hiring someone to do it for us could have been a better use of our time and resources. A co-working space was our best bet, and CANOPY clinched it because the building is well-finished. We have two offices to hold the fifteen of us–and you can walk to many great restaurants, which is really convenient.”
The Investor and Venture Studio as a Service founder
Karine Sarkissian, Founding Partner at Tamar Capital, Co-founder and Design Lead at Le Studio
Karine co-founded Single Family Office, Tamar Capital, with her two brothers in 2016; now, they operate offices in Beirut, London, and San Francisco at CANOPY Jackson Square. As Head of the US office and Venture Capital Investments, she led the exploration of multiple, primarily impact-focused, initiatives across the firm’s VC investment portfolio, spanning various geographies and sectors. In 2020, Karine co-founded Le Studio with Sophie Durey, an in-house Venture Studio as a Service (VSaaS) model for enterprises.
Karine signed up for a membership at CANOPY Jackson Square a week after moving to SF in October 2018. Initially, she had a flex desk, then signed up for a dedicated desk in the communal area before moving into a private office. Her four-person team just moved to a larger private office.
“We come in two or three days a week and often start work at 6 am to overlap with London and Beirut time zones. It can be a challenge, but the pandemic proved that remote work is possible, and we use tools like Slack and weekly huddles to stay connected; it also doesn’t hurt that I work with my brothers!”
Jen Haile, City Director, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an independently funded global organization that investigates and reports on abuses to protect the most at risk. Jen’s role as City Director, part of the SF-based team, is to be a key connector in the Bay Area. She strengthens relations with people who invest in HRW’s work, finds new partnerships, fundraises, and raises awareness of human rights issues spanning LBGT rights, children’s rights, immigration, data analytics, and technology. Jen collaborates with stakeholders to push forward policy change from her home office and CANOPY Jackson Square, taking advantage of CANOPY 24-hour access to take early morning calls with colleagues on the East Coast or in Europe as part of her flexible work-life schedule.
“While I try to clock off early, I’m usually still working in the late afternoon. My ideal day would be to start with a long walk with my husband Jeremy in one of the city’s beautiful parks, grab coffee and center myself, and then have a balanced day with meetings with our Committee members, planning for a women’s march, or outreach on an advocacy campaign.”
Lindsay Spiller, Attorney at Law, Spiller Law
Lindsay’s eclectic law practice, which covers business, entertainment, and estate planning, means he needs to operate from multiple locations: in addition to keeping coffee hours at a Santa Monica hotel and Cannes Film Festival, he also maintains workspaces in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and CANOPY Jackson Square in San Francisco. Before the pandemic, Lindsay needed an office of his own that would impress clients when meeting in person; now, he needs a workplace that offers conference rooms and meeting space that offers the same type of elevated ambiance.
“I would tell my colleagues in law to be unafraid of exploring the shared space world, because you can still have private offices at CANOPY if you need them. When I had my own office, I didn’t have much social interaction, and it was a lonely experience. It’s been a joy to be at CANOPY among smart, interesting people. Everybody here is engaged in something that they’re passionate about, and that’s infectious.”
Kaitlin Browman, Chief Operations Officer, Science for America
Solutions incubator Science for America (SfA) was established in May 2022 to address five urgent challenges: the climate and energy crisis; medicine and public health; STEM equity and education; leadership and responsibility in critical technologies; and new models to support research and innovation. Earlier this year, SfA published its first white paper, “New Opportunities for Fusion Power,” which lays out approaches for fusion power with the potential to speed progress, decrease cost, and simplify engineering challenges.
Unsure of how staffing would play out, Kaitlin rented a seven-person office for their initial two team members at CANOPY Menlo Park to support her in collaborating with SfA’s bicoastal team while allowing her room to grow her team before she relocated to the East Coast.
“The space here is gorgeous; there’s a dog park in the new Springline development (where CANOPY is located), and everybody we’ve met here is just so nice–the space had a warm, inviting, friendly feel even before it opened. It’s also been really fun to meet other strong women here and share best practices and knowledge.”
The Head of Product
Gopal Erinjippurath, CTO, Sust Global
Founded in 2020, Sust Global delivers global at-scale analytics for climate adaptation for various industries, including insurance, real estate, finance, and the voluntary carbon market. Gopal’s mission is to bring the data together and make it easy for businesses to understand how the changing climate is affecting them at the physical climate level. For example, companies in the Bay Area or the Pacific Northwest might be concerned about wildfires or flooding; in Florida or other parts of the world, leaders might be more concerned with cyclones. Sust Global maintains two hybrid desks and one permanent desk at CANOPY Jackson Square to serve its team in day-to-day work and provide space to meet, socialize, and host events.
“We have a talk series in the works in partnership with a collection of venture capital firms to enable a broader understanding across the ecosystem of the climate capital stack and how people are looking at capital distribution within climate and climate-based technologies. By co-hosting talks, we can bring together thought leaders in venture capital and private capital deployment, enable a broader awareness of new ventures in the space, and show how to access those companies.”
The Venture Leasing Specialist
Charles “Chuck” Sellman, President, USA, Kineo Finance
Charles “Chuck” Sellman joined the CANOPY community shortly after he became President of kineo finance, a Switzerland-based, globally active financing firm for innovative technologies and equipment, in 2022. Leveraging his nonlinear career path and experience working as a biologist, a US Naval Flight Officer, and in various roles in equipment finance, Chuck is responsible for expanding kineo’s team and reach in the U.S., offering venture leasing and other forms of asset financing to startup companies which are commercializing their products in the form of product- and market-specific “equipment-as-a-service” solutions via pay-per-use, renting or subscription models. While most of his colleagues come in a few days each week, Chuck works out of kineo’s private office at CANOPY’s Jackson Square most days–if you’ve visited this location, there’s a good chance you’ve met him!
“CANOPY has been the perfect solution for kineo as the company has grown and added headcount. We have expanded from a floor membership to a two-person, then four-person, and now an eight-person private office, benefiting from CANOPY’s professional and turnkey service within a beautiful, highly functional workspace. The presence of an engaging and skilled full-time barista, large and comfortable outdoor spaces, and a continuous stream of lectures and special events make it hard to imagine setting up shop anywhere else. Additionally, the relationships developed between kineo’s team and other CANOPY clients have proven to be socially and professionally invaluable.”